10/15/2003 2:23 AM ET
Gonzalez won't blame curses
Cubs shortstop makes no excuses for crucial error
CHICAGO -- It just seemed like there was something bigger at work at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night. The things that went wrong seemed like even more than what could go wrong. But give Alex Gonzalez this -- he spoke not of curses, or even of bad hops, when discussing his key eighth-inning error in an 8-3 loss.
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
Gonzalez, a fine fielder, stood up and took the blame.
"For whatever reason, I didn't catch the ball," he said. "I was trying to get an out there, but it just seemed like the spin on the ball kind of ate me up. I was I guess not expecting it to get to me that fast."
Gonzalez's misplay of a potential double-play grounder from Miguel Cabrera led to five unearned runs, and made Gonzalez a potential goat in an extremely painful loss. The Cubs were five outs from the World Series and didn't close the deal. Now, the National League Championship Series goes to a seventh game.
It's hard to blame a guy who contributed so much with the glove all season, though.
"It happens," said losing pitcher Mark Prior. "Nobody's perfect. I don't think anybody had a 1.000 fielding percentage this year, and if they did, they probably didn't have many opportunities. I'm not going to sit here and stir anything up. They've played great behind me all year and made some great plays through the course of this game and things happen."
The error followed soon after an even stranger play, in which a fan grabbed a ball Moises Alou seemed to have a clear line on. The two potholes on Chicago's road to the World Series sent the Marlins to an eight-run inning.
With runners on first and second, one out, and one run in, Cabrera hit a sharp bouncer to Gonzalez. It looked like one out for sure, and two possibly, but instead everyone was safe.
"We would have probably just gotten one on that," Gonzalez said. "I was pretty deep, and I know Cabrera runs pretty quick. I took a look at the replay. I was trying to see what happened on the ball. I don't think we would have gotten two on that play."
But even one, it turns out, would have prevented the outburst. The fourth Florida run scored on a sacrifice fly, which should have been out No. 3 instead of the second out.
Four more Marlins crossed the plate after that.
"It was an unfortunate inning," Gonzalez said. "It seemed like there (were) a few things that went wrong. They got some momentum and just kept going. By that time, they had a lot of runs up there, and it was tough to get back into the game."
Now, the challenge for Gonzalez and his teammates is to come back a day later and try to win Game 7. They've gone 1-3 in potential clinching games this postseason, but none of the losses stung like this one.
"It was definitely a tough inning," he said. "Especially with them being able to put that many runs on the board. You just kind of look back in disbelief and realize that you have to put it behind you. You go back tomorrow and continue where we started out tonight."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.